As Whitfield County Schools continues to provide meals for students even with buildings closed because of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, bus drivers like longtime employee Victor Vance have taken on added importance.
"We have a great group of drivers who, when we call, they're glad to do anything for kids, but Victor is one of those guys who always steps up to the plate and is willing to go above and beyond," said Rick Holsomback, director of transportation for Whitfield County Schools. In fact, while the system is rotating drivers on and off for this current duty, Vance "didn't want to be rotated off; he wants to keep helping his kids and his community."
Vance usually works on the north end of the county, and he drives a bus for special needs students, Holsomback said. "Not everyone is cut out for that work, because it takes someone who really cares for them, but he has the heart for it (in addition) to the proficiency (for) the job."
Currently, Vance is picking up meals from Northwest Whitfield High School and delivering them in the community, Holsomback said. "He's a top-notch guy."
Vance also routinely provides levity while carrying out his duties, which is appreciated by students, families and his co-workers, Holsomback said. For example, "he fitted a mask onto the front of his bus when all this started" to lighten the mood, and "he's just a pleasure to work with."
Bus safety is no laughing matter, however, and Vance has been integral to the system's efforts to educate students on the matter. Each year, every one of the elementary schools in the system receives a visit from Vance or one of his counterparts, Holsomback said. "We go into how to safely ride, load, and unload the bus."
"We try to cover every student," even those who don't regularly ride the bus, because they'll still need buses for field trips, etc., he added. Vance "has coordinated that (program) for us the last two years."
For his efforts to help and protect students, the Daily Citizen-News names Victor Vance Citizen of the Week.